Science Fiction Though the Decades

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

1968: The Farthest Reaches (Elder, Joseph [editor])

Not transported to the 'Farthest Reaches' (3/5)
From May 3, 2011

Ah, the sixties... when science fiction was making the transition from space science fiction to social science fiction, some still held to the reigns on the earlier era. Stephen Goldin's anthology The Alien Condition (1973) spoke to this change of focus while highlighting the societies in alien civilizations. This 1968 collection is passable for its space theme but ultimately hinges on the popularity of the twelve authors (eleven of which I know by name). However, I don't think it accomplishes what the editor expected when he called for: an exhibition of extreme escapism which science fiction offers its' readers. To quote, these stories should be "set only in farthest reaches of space beyond our solar system, in unimaginably distant galaxies which reflect all those qualities which Mr. Clarke so rightly claimed as our true goals in space." Meh.

I don't know what the editor, Joseph Elder, was known for in the science fiction community, but it appears his only other contribution has been another collection entitled Eros in Orbit (1973), which looks pretty sleazy... something you expect from the science fiction in Playboy (From the "S" File [1971]).


The Worm That Flies (Brian W. Aldiss, 1968) - 2/5 - A stone-collecting immortal worm on a far-flung planet around a dying star amid a galaxy of perishing novas with philosophical trees and temperamental gorilla-men... I'm not sure where Aldiss was going with this. 20 pages

Kyrie (Poul Anderson, 1968) - 4/5 - Ship approaches a supernova and onboard is a human telepath linked to a energy-being who is being employed to probe the intricacies of the nova but at what cost to the telepath? 13 pages

Tomorrow is a Million Years (J.G. Ballard, 1966) - 4/5 - Shipwrecked man on a desert planet hallucinates fictional nautical ships while awaiting rescue. The time dilation involved means he'll arrive back home seven years after leaving, and hopefully to a brighter future. 13 pages

Pond Water (John Brunner, 1968) - 4/5 - Alexander, the ultimate robot, is given a supreme metallic body and a expansive knowledge, allowing it to control earth, the colonies and eventually the galaxy but there in one thing it will never control. 13 pages

The Dance of the Changer and the Three (Terry Carr, 1968) - 2/5 - A gas planet home to energy-beings is also the source of very heavy metals, but the locals aren't so logical or clear and this doesn't stop a mining company from coming in and, eventually, having to deal with the consequences. 16 pages

Crusade (Arthur C. Clarke, 1968) - 4/5 - Perpetually mid-galactic superconductive sentient planet sends near-absolute zero envoys o regional galaxies in search for life but only finds one race liquid hydrogen oxide beings. 6 pages

Ranging (John Jakes, 1968) - 3/5 - Teenaged galactic surveyors jump millions of light-years to plot the neighborhood but they have ambitions to jump further- to trillions of light-years, if it just wasn't for the oversight of the Monitors. 15 pages

Mind Out of Time (Keith Laumer, 1968) - 3/5 - FLT craft zips beyond Mars orbit on her maiden voyage but the pilots have the crazy idea to hammer the throttle and see where (or when or how) it takes them. 15 pages

The Inspector (James McKimmey, 1968) - 5/5 - Earth Central investigates the extra-vehicular orbital death of a famous young man of the colonized planet Tnp, who are experiencing a pragmatic Greek-era revival. 20 pages

To the Dark Star (Robert Silverberg, 1968) - 2/5 - A trio of scientists (one human, one pan-human, one alien) approach and explore an ancient derelict of a collapsed star, where the humans succumb to petty bickering. (You'll have to suspend any knowledge you have of collapsed stars and supernovae). 12 pages

A Night in Elf Hill (Norman Spinrad, 1968) - 3/5 - A space merchant nears mandatory retirement after eighteen years of service and writes a letter to his brother begging him out of returning to a planet which hosts a secret relic offering the unequalled joys of a lost race. 14 pages

Sulwen's Planet (Jack Vance, 1968) - 3/5 - Bickering comparative linguists beset themselves with the chance to research two alien derelicts on a deserted planet. 15 pages

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